England gain consolation win

West Indies all-rounder Roston Chase celebrates reaching three figures yesterday but his knock was unable to stop the West Indies from sliding to a heavy defeat.

(BBC) England claimed a consolation 232-run victory over West Indies despite Roston Chase’s unbeaten 102 on yesterday’s fourth day of the final Test in St Lucia.

West Indies, set 485 for victory, were dismissed for 252, with James Anderson taking 3-27 and Moeen Ali 3-99.

The hosts were reduced to 10-3 and 110-6 but Chase batted for more than four hours to frustrate the tourists, before last man Keemo Paul was dismissed.

Earlier, England declared on 361-5 after Joe Root was out for 122.

It was a disappointing end to the series for West Indies, who had an unassailable 2-0 lead going into the match and had dominated England’s batsmen.

Chase was the only batsman who withstood England’s pressure, scoring his century from 191 balls with 12 fours and one six.

James Anderson was the pick of the England bowlers yesterday with 3-27 from 11 overs.

There were positives in this match for England – off-spinner Moeen bowled tidily and captain Root found form with the bat – but ultimately, it came too late for the series.

Their fielding was disappointing on the fourth day, with three catches dropped, and the questions over their batting line-up remain.

After spending almost three days in the field, and with two days remaining in the game, West Indies needed a strong start.

Instead, they were 10-3 after seven overs, with all three of the side’s senior batsmen playing loose drives to be caught behind the wicket off Anderson.

Anderson has been given a heavy workload in the Caribbean and has struggled since taking 5-46 the first Test, but he spent time on Monday working with bowling Coach Chris Silverwood to tighten up his action.

He bowled accurately, with John Campbell caught brilliantly in the gully by a leaping Moeen off the third ball of the innings, before Kraigg Brathwaite edged to second slip.

England could have made further inroads had Jos Buttler not dropped Shai Hope at third slip, but Root at second was able to cling on when Anderson found the edge of Darren Bravo’s bat.

Chase was the mainstay of the innings but he was unable to form partnerships – Shimron Hetmyer was run out going for a third run that was never possible, and Shane Dowrich was caught at slip off a drifting Moeen delivery.

The tail hit out as Chase continued to accumulate, with Alzarri Joseph twice slogging Moeen for six, and it looked as though the all-rounder would miss out on three figures when Joseph was caught at mid-on.

However, he cut Joe Denly’s leg-spin to the boundary for his fifth Test century, before Paul’s entertaining six-ball cameo came to an end as he was caught and bowled by Ben Stokes.

It was a tame end to a competitive series from West Indies, but their performances in the first two Tests were enough to ensure the series win.

It has been a mixed winter for England, starting with an impressive 3-0 series victory in Sri Lanka and ending with several batting collapses and a 2-1 defeat in the Caribbean.

In six away Tests they have used four different opening batsmen and five different number threes, with Jonny Bairstow moving from a top-order batsman to a wicketkeeper batting at seven.

Coach Trevor Bayliss said before the West Indian tour that he wanted to establish a settled top three before the home summer begins.

Keaton Jennings scored just 62 runs in four innings at the top of the order and was out in familiar fashion each time, driving outside the off stump, while Denly and Rory Burns made contributions but not a big score.

England collapsed in four of their six Caribbean innings and struggled against the West Indies’ pace, which will give Australia’s quick bowlers hope before the Ashes series in August.

However, Mark Wood’s emergence as a bowler of genuine pace – albeit his speeds were down in the fourth innings – and wickets for Moeen and Stokes adds further confidence to their bowling attack.

There are five months until England’s next red-ball outing against Ireland in July, which means early runs in the county season will be crucial.

England captain Joe Root said afterwards that the West Indies deserved to win the series.

“West Indies deserved to win the series, they outplayed us in the first two games, but it’s a real step forward for this team to perform like we did this week,” he said.

“It was important we played well this week. It should be a real confidence-booster going into an exciting summer for us,” he added.

West Indies captain Jason Holder said the team needs to keep on improving.

“We have got to keep improving in the three facets of the game and be clinical and lot more consistent.

“We need to continue to build and not rest on our laurels. Our number one goal is to be the number one team in the world so there is a lot to improve on.”

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